08 April 2013

Rating Systems Challenge: Equations are Red, Experts are Blue

Georgia Dome
Site of the 2013 Final Four
Source: Wikimedia Commons
This post is one in a series investigating how the various college basketball rating systems predict the men's NCAA Tournament. Click here to read the rest.

While tonight's contest will feature a battle between two squads of college students who represent the pinnacle of their sport, the winner will also determine whether the best prognosticators of NCAA Tournament Basketball were a council of experts—the survey samples for the ESPN and AP Preseason Polls—or advanced models developed by Nate Silver and ESPN.

In The Signal and the Noise, author Nate Silver makes a convincing argument that experts are typically bad prognosticators and groups of experts are seldom better. Instead, we should look at rigorous, testable models based on objective, verifiable data. However, even advanced models can fail to predict outcomes in low-information systems where minor variations can cascade into major disruptions.

Weather forecasting is one attempt to simplify such a system. Forecasting tournament play in sport is another.


06 April 2013

Rating Systems Challenge: Final Four Preview

This post is one in a series investigating how the various college basketball rating systems predict the men's NCAA Tournament. Click here to read the rest.


The 2013 Rating Systems Challenge heads into the Final Four with only one top seed and two original picks remaining: 1 Louisville, which eighteen of twenty systems expected to make it this far, and 4 Michigan, which only the preseason polls expected to survive. Joining them are 4 Syracuse and, 2013's Cinderella school, 9 Wichita State. It should be pretty obvious by now which school the systems expect to win it all.


The implications are now clear for the Rating Systems Challenge since the systems that picked Michigan to reach the Final Four do not expect the Wolverines to advance further, and since those are the systems that are currently winning. If the Cardinals fall short of winning the National Championship, the ESPN Preseason Poll will have been 2013's best prognosticator. If Louisville does win it all, that honor will fall to the FiveThirtyEight and the ESPN Computer systems.